Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


Dr. Christopher M. Clark


This paper presents a new method for constructing 2D maps of enclosed un- derwater structures using an underwater robot equipped with only a 2D scanning sonar, compass and depth sensor. In particular, no motion model or odometry is used. To accomplish this, a two step offline SLAM method is applied to a set of stationary sonar scans. In the first step, the change in position of the robot between each consecutive pair of stationary sonar scans is estimated using a particle filter. This set of pair wise relative scan positions is used to create an estimate of each scan’s position within a global coordinate frame using a weighted least squares fit that optimizes consistency between the relative positions of the entire set of scans. In the second step of the method, scans and their estimated positions act as inputs to a mapping algorithm that constructs 2D octree-based evidence grid maps of the site.

This work is motivated by a multi-year archaeological project that aims to construct maps of ancient water storage systems, i.e. cisterns, on the islands of Malta and Gozo. Cisterns, wells, and water galleries within fortresses, churches and homes operated as water storage systems as far back as 2000 B.C. Using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) these water storage systems located around the islands were explored while collecting video, still images, sonar, depth, and compass measurements. Data gathered from 5 different expeditions has produced maps of over 90 sites. Presented are results from applying the new mapping method to both a swimming pool of known size and to several of the previously unexplored water storage systems.

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Robotics Commons